In the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, Jesus teaches about the preparation of the kingdom and God’s punishment of those who reject it. While the parable has a primary application to Israel’s rejection of the kingdom, we can also learn of four different and yet equally disastrous responses to the call of the gospel of the kingdom.
First, in verse 3, there was the calling of those who were invited but who “were not willing to come.” Their will, their “want to”, was to refuse the call into the kingdom. Jesus said, “if any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17, ASV). The NKJV reads, “if anyone wants to do His will….” Man is a free moral agent, in charge of his own will and want. He may either accept or reject the calling. Those in verse 3 chose to reject. Likewise today, many are simply unwilling to believe and obey the Lord; perhaps they are unwilling to change, to repent.
Secondly, in verse 5, some had a light-hearted response: “But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.” These had another priority which they would not allow to be replaced with the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God held no weight for them, so much so that they made light of the call. This may remind us of Lot’s sons-in-law who were warned by Lot to get up and get out of Sodom because the Lord was going to shortly destroy the city. “But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking” (Genesis 19:14). They had a very light-hearted attitude toward the divine warning relayed to them by Lot. It happens similarly today. One may be taught the seriousness of following only the Bible and the need for godly living, but it is sometimes given little attention, it is ignored and people go back to their everyday activities, or even worse, it is passed off as something radical. The teaching of the New Testament is not taken seriously enough by many.
Still others, in verse 6, responded in a cruel way: “And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.” This mean and hateful response still occurs today. Some will mock and ridicule those who speak and live the truth of the gospel. Jesus warned his chosen disciples to be ready for such a response: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). Should we expect any different for disciples today? He said, “for everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:20). The gospel really does make some people angry.
Finally, in verse 11, there is the man not properly dressed: “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.” Unlike the others, this man, upon being invited, came to the wedding. But he was found by the king improperly clothed. He had not done what was required – putting on the wedding garment. Many are this way today. They want the blessings of the kingdom but refuse to do what is required to enter the kingdom. The Bible says “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Baptism is when one puts on the proper clothing. And then one must remain faithful, keeping himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27).
Considering the varied responses in this parable, let us learn to be prepared for and thus not be discouraged by the various responses to the gospel of Christ that we may encounter. We must not let it discourage us from trying to save others, whether they are unbelievers or erring Christians. The power is in the gospel, and we do not know the hearts of men. And let us examine ourselves and be diligent to be found prepared at our Lord’s coming.
– Larry Jones